Callum MacPherson marked his return to Highland colours with a hat-trick of tries as they began the National One season with a 47-19 bonus point victory at Dundee Rugby.
Highland were ahead 14-0 early on at Mayfield thanks to tries by back-row MacPherson, back at the club after a spell with Stirling County, and centre Jack Sutherland. Stand-off Rory Carson converted both.
However, Dundee then came storming back to lead 19-14 at the break before Highland, aided by a couple of home yellow cards, turned on the style in the second half and scored 33 unanswered points to take the victory back to Inverness.
The second half tries came from scrum-half Hugo Crush, MacPherson with two to complete his hat-trick and hooker Kevin Brown (2). Carson converted four of them.
“Overall, I was delighted with the performance, we were dominant in the scrum and lineout and five points away from home is a great start, but there is plenty to work on and build on,” Highland head coach Dave Carson said.
“After we went 14-0 up we looked in control, but we switched off a bit and, credit to Dundee, they took advantage.
“We had to reset at half-time and we knew that if we played our game and played at tempo then we could get the win and so it proved.”
Ayr, GHK, Watsonians and GHA won the other games in the division on the opening day.
Disappointment for Granite City men
In National Two, Aberdeen Grammar and Gordonians both suffered defeats.
Grammar were at home to Stirling County, who had been relegated alongside them last season, and it was the visitors who set the early tone at Rubislaw.
They were 28-0 ahead after just 19 minutes before centre Craig Shepherd’s try got Grammar on the board eight minutes before the break.
That seemed to rile County though and they scored two more tries to lead 40-5 at half-time.
Grammar regrouped at the break and did manage to score three tries – through full-back Scott Byars (2) and back-rower Donovan Zietsman – plus a conversion to give them a four try bonus point from a 55-22 reverse.
Head coach Eric Strachan said: “It was a tough start for the guys and County are a good side who took advantage of any space they were given.
“However, credit to the players who could have gone into their shells at half-time, but instead came out and played some nice rugby at times, caused them a few problems and earned a bonus point.
“That spirit gives us something to build on going forward for sure.”
Gordonians were on the road at Peebles and were beaten 27-17.
Scrum-half Finlay Troup scored a try which was converted by stand-off Josh Andrew to leave Gordonians just 12-7 down at the break.
However, tries from Peebles in the 42nd and 52nd minutes meant that Gordonians were then 22-7 behind and chasing the game after that.
A try by Ross Findlay and a conversion and penalty by Andrew did haul things back to 22-17 with five minutes to go though before a late home try sealed it for the Borderers.
Head coach Ryan Morrice said: “We were disappointed not to take anything from the game as we felt our performance deserved something.
“The game swung either side of half-time when we should have scored to make it 14-7 to us, but an error led to Peebles going the length on the pitch to score and soon 12-7 to them became 22-7.
“After that the boys battled back and there is lots of positives to take, but we are just frustrated with some parts of the performance.”
Orkney’s National Three campaign started brilliantly with a 32-26 bonus point victory away to West of Scotland.
Try scorers were Duncan Gray, Niall Campbell, Robbie Firth, Scott Russell and Scott Rendall while stand-off Connor Hancock kicked a penalty and two conversions in Glasgow.
In Caledonia One, Mackie are top of the North Conference after a 45-12 triumph over Caithness made it two wins from two.
Moray are also on 10 points from 10 after a 38-5 victory at RAF Lossiemouth.
It was a tough day for Garioch in the women’s Premiership as they lost their round three clash with Heriot’s Blues 80-7 at Kellands Park.